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Tesla S battery pack (Tesla)

Tesla won't say so itself, but its much-discussed mainstream electric Model 3 appears to be powered by a battery about 11% smaller than the tiniest offered for its showcase luxury Model S, according to researchers who have gone to work figuring it out.

Vital news for battery fanatics: At a time researchers around the world are attempting to discover a breakthrough super-battery to bring electric cars to the masses, there is unusual interest in every detail about the $35,000 Model 3, which was launched July 28.

It's not clear why Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have been all-but silent about the battery, the car's most important spec, given that they have released at least bare-bones detail as a matter of course about its other vehicles. Tesla did not respond to emails from Axios about the battery.

But Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, said the car's 220-mile version appears to be powered by a 53.5 kWh battery, just smaller than the 60 kWh version in the smallest Model S battery. The Model 3's longer-range 310-mile version appears to have a 79 kWh battery. His findings — based on the general characteristics of the Model 3 that Tesla has released — generally jibe with estimates by some Tesla observers.

Update: Tesla's EPA certification, published today at Electrek, shows that Viswanathan's team estimate was spot on.

A surprise about the Model 3: "One really interesting point is that Model 3 has among the lowest drag coefficients of all passenger sedans, let alone in this price range," Viswanathan tells Axios. The drag coefficient — how easily the car can move through the wind — is measured at 0.23, compared with .24 for the Model S, which already had among the lowest.

Why it matters: The low drag coefficient means the car gets more energy out of a relatively small battery. And the smaller battery reduces the weight and price of the car, which is Musk's goal in attempting to create a big-selling mainstream electric.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Experts predict major boom for North American sports stadiums

Rendering of the $375 million Moody Center on the UT-Austin campus. Photo courtesy of Moody Center

Stadium and arena construction in North America will total a relatively tame $5.8 billion this year, a 12% decrease from 2021.

The big picture: What the industry lacks in construction it expects to make up for in design, with experts predicting a sports venue boom over the next half-decade, SBJ reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

The latest: “I can’t comment on specific pieces of intelligence. But we’ve been warning about just this kind of tactic for weeks and we’ve spoken to that publicly," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Student debt getting in the way of millennial homeownership

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millennial homeownership is on the rise — but student loan debt is still keeping millions of members of America's largest generation from owning a home.

Why it matters: Buying a house remains the No. 1 way to build wealth in the U.S.